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Matt Neal: "Snetterton is fantastic circuit to race on"

Friday, August 02 2013

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship leader Matt Neal expects the title fight to step up a gear this weekend at Snetterton (3/4 August). The drivers return after a six week rest that marked the season's halfway point.

"I love the summer break, Matt said. "But coming to end of it I do feel like I did when school term used to be looming. We're now heading into the half of the year when it starts to get serious, the gloves come off, so pressure and tempers are going to ramp up."

This prediction is no doubt informed by clashes in the last two years between the triple champion and his arch rival Jason Plato. Tempers between the pair also flared up on track at Snetterton in 2006, but Matt doesn't think that it's down to the Norfolk air: "Jason and I have had one incident or another at most circuits, so Snetterton is no different, I'm sure it'll be business as usual come this one."

Matt will therefore be hoping that his Civic will have the edge around Snetterton, something in which the 300 layout does offer a little help. "It favours handling more than the old circuit which does help us," he said, having praised the Honda's chassis on many past occasions. "But on the flip side straight line speed is still very critical and is a place where the cars with extra boost can really stretch their legs. What will hurt me is carrying 45 kilos of success ballast round there, it's a long lap and race one is going to be a challenge to see what we can get before the second and third races."

Another consideration will be tyres, and with all teams obliged to run a soft compound in one of the races, the summer heat and circuit layout should make this particularly interesting. Matt agrees: "Pre the break I think the Honda crew had done the best job in understanding and using the soft tyre - we looked forward to using it, so it'll be interesting to see where everyone else is having had some more testing and development. The hot weather could extenuate others use of the tyre if they are still hard on it, but then we need grip to keep our speed.

"It's a circuit that is high speed which needs commitment and a good car, Jonathan Palmer has done a brilliant job with its rework his passion and knowledge for racing has really shown through and given us a fantastic circuit to race on."

Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton on 3/4 August are available on the gate from £13, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.